In the months since being named president, I have been asked numerous times about my top goals. While it’s still early in my tenure, there are a few goals that I consider immutable and vital to our mission as a Catholic institution. One of those is our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
At St. Thomas, when we talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, it is not because it’s a popular buzzword in higher education. We talk about it because we’re committed to it, and we’re committed to it because we are Catholic, and we take our mission seriously. If we want to equip our students to understand how they can best contribute to the needs of the world, those students have to be seen, known and valued during their time here at St. Thomas.
Of course, this is nothing new for us. Archbishop John Ireland founded this institution for immigrants who were not welcomed elsewhere. Nearly 140 years later, it remains central to our mission to reduce barriers to a St. Thomas education and ensure that every student who sets foot on our campus experiences a strong sense of belonging.
This issue of St. Thomas Magazine highlights some of the excellent DEI programs, curricula and other efforts being implemented by our committed faculty and staff. For example, our new interdisciplinary Master’s in Diversity Leadership offering; the partnership between our School of Education and St. Paul Public Schools to create the Maxfield Collaborative Learning School; and the coordinated efforts with benefactors, corporate sponsors and business leaders who serve as advisers and financial supporters.
St. Thomas reaches beyond our campus to dismantle inequities and create opportunities in the broader community, such as through the Racial Justice Initiative. Through a distinctive focus on historical recovery, the Initiative creates opportunities in partnership with local leaders for critical conversations and actions around racial justice.
Our DEI efforts are indispensable to academic excellence and the holistic development of our students, the advancement of our staff, and thought leadership of our faculty. I hope you enjoy reading this issue of St. Thomas Magazine and join us in support of our DEI efforts across the university.